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Testimony of Gennette Carr & Bernie Gracy to the VT DEC Public Meeting on the Draft Wake Boat Rules

On February 15, 2023 there will be a public meeting hosted by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to get verbal feedback on the proposed draft rule that would allow wakesports on Big and Little Averill lakes. I am pleased that we have representation from both of our lakes at this meeting. We thought it important to share our prepared testimony. Each of us are only allowed 2 minutes. Testimony of Gennette Carr Good evening. My name is Gennette Carr and I am a second generation land owner on Great Averill Pond. My dad purchased the Cottage Road property in 1946. Over the past 77 years my family and countless friends and relatives have raised their children on the shores of big Averill. From infants splashing in the shallow coves, to pre-teens walking the entire length of the shoreline on the rocks, to teenagers challenging each other to swim across the lake, to fishing the calm waters to catch “the big one”, the lake and surrounding forests have provided peace, tranquility, time to reflect, and the opportunity to connect with nature and each other, Here is where we learned to swim, catch crayfish, row a boat, paddle a canoe, catch and clean a fish. Where we found, as my mom would often say, no need for speed here on God’s little acre.

Over the years, land owners around the lake have come together to remedy the challenges that have threatened the health of our lake and shorelines, our loon and fish populations, and the peace and tranquility that are inherent in this remote corner of our State.

Years of negotiation with Hydro-Coaticook to stabilize lake levels preventing further shoreline erosion and damage to shoreline vegetative buffers have started to pay off as our shorelines begin to heal. Irresponsible operation of personal watercraft endangering swimmers, canoers, loons and other boaters resulted in them being banned from our lakes.

Now our lakes are once again threatened by the proposed rules allowing wake boats to ply these waters. Bringing with them their potential for transporting aquatic invasive species, increased shoreline disturbances and the very strong likelihood of reckless operation in pursuit of speed.

How, I ask, is the State going to ensure that these boats, if allowed on our lakes, don’t transport AIS? Who will police the lakes to make sure the rules to protect our pristine public waters in the best interest of all current and future generations are adhered to?

I believe the lake communities should have the right to opt out as their means of self -regulation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Testimony of Bernie Gracy Good evening. My name is Bernie Gracy and I am President of the Averill Lakes Association. Under the proposed draft rules both Big and Little Averill Lake would be eligible for wakesports. Our board of directors and membership, the Unified Towns and Gores of Essex County, and local businesses have all expressed deep concern about this regulation and the potential impact on our shoreline, loons, water recreation, water quality, and our way of life. We have grave concerns about preserving the rights and the safety of paddlers and swimmers to transit our lakes to reach destinations like Little Averill's sandy beach. This is not an activity we want on our lakes.

I do want to raise a new argument – that the proposed regulation does not mitigate the negative externalities of wakesports - that benefit a very few - as they represent a new tax on local communities ill equipped to manage this on their own. Regulation is one vehicle to address a negative externality. But there is inherent self-regulation in what is proposed as it assumes that the wakesport enthusiast will actually comply with the regulation. Observed behavior on both Lake Memphremagog and First Connecticut Lake strongly suggest otherwise.

Therefore, I would add if this rule gets adopted that SUBSTANTIAL fees will need to be raised from the home lake registration and other sources to fund greeter programs at the eligible lakes and monitor compliance as well as increased staff and patrols for Vermont Fish and Wildlife to receive and investigate complaints and enforce the regulation with offending parties. If such funds will not be raised to cover this expense and risk - then the eligible lake communities should have the right to opt out. Thank you for your consideration.

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